Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore

Defining the port of tomorrow in Singapore

Feb. 28 2022 - 3 min

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has collaborated with stakeholders across the industry to promote the adoption of greener fuel to reach carbon reduction goals. Bureau Veritas is one such partner. Notably, our iCARE team in Singapore works closely with the MPA and other local actors to drive decarbonization. Furthermore, Bureau Veritas and the MPA are both dedicated to supporting the digital transformation of the maritime industry in Singapore and building acceptance around new technology and techniques.

We spoke to Quah Ley Hoon, MPA Chief Executive, to understand the trends that will shape the future of this key maritime hub.

How will the world of shipping evolve between now and 2030?

I believe we will see continued transformation along two major developmental pathways: digitalization and sustainability.

Decarbonization is now a significant priority for the shipping industry. We need to encourage innovation and advance the industry to ensure that we meet the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 2050 target: to reduce total annual greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% compared to 2008 levels.

As with most industries, digitalization will also play a key role in transforming the seascape. We must enable broad-based restructuring that combines physical and digital connectivity. This will help maritime companies build their digital infrastructure and ensure business continuity.

How will Singapore confront these challenges?

Singapore is leading efforts to promote the use of greener fuels in shipping, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG). The MPA developed the Maritime Singapore Decarbonization Blueprint 2050 to support the decarbonization of international shipping through a multi-fuel transition

We are also firmly committed to digitalization. To streamline port clearances and reduce administrative overheads, the MPA launched digitalPORT@SGTM in 2019 and worked with industry partners to create a seamless cross-border digital network, digitalOCEANSTM. It provides a new level of connectivity for the global maritime and shipping community.

The industry’s transformation and robust growth trajectory mean maritime companies will also face challenges in terms of staffing. MPA works with partners to attract new talent to the maritime sector. In Singapore, we have developed upskilling programs to equip existing workers across functions for a digitalized future.

How does the industry's past prepare it for addressing these challenges?

During the pandemic, we have all seen the extent to which global trade relies on shipping – crews spending months at sea and global supply chain disruptions. But there’s always a silver lining. The pandemic catalyzed transformation, namely through digitalization and decarbonization, and enabled the maritime industry to demonstrate its versatility and resilience.

We also deeply felt the importance of unity in our industry. The endorsement of MPA by our partners like Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), as well as tripartite partnerships with Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) and Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (SG-STAR) Fund, provided support for the industry in 2020 and showed our cohesive strength.

How optimistic are you about the future of the maritime industry?

There’s no reason not to be optimistic. The world of shipping is taking steps forward on the paths of both digitalization and decarbonization, and we will continue to encourage innovation in our ecosystem.

As we remain on course to establish Singapore as a Global Maritime Hub for connectivity and innovation, Singapore will also work closely with our like-minded global partners and industry players, like the SG-STAR Fund Taskforce. Together, we will overcome the present challenges posed by the pandemic.

I believe that the cohesiveness of the maritime industry, with our various international tripartite partnerships, will only grow in strength and enable us to build a robust future economy.